Audiences experience ‘Secret Byrd’ in the Crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields © Mark Allan

Imaginative and engaging classical music programming continues at St Martin’s with new series of five intimate and immersive concerts in the Crypt

Acclaimed and celebrated artists perform traditional and experimental works in stunning atmosphere of the historic space

St Martin-in-the-Fields, the landmark Church in London’s Trafalgar Square, today [9 October 2023] announces a new series of innovative and immersive concerts to take place in the vaulted Crypt beneath the floors of the 18th-century building.

Crypt Close-Ups comprises five events featuring contemporary music, classical, dance and cross-genre performances. All at 8.30pm, they allow audiences to explore St Martin’s uniquely atmospheric crypt by candlelight, wandering freely or sitting informally in an intimate, 360-degree relationship to the performers.

Crypt Close-Ups build on the success of Secret Byrd, a theatrical and immersive staging of Byrd’s Mass co-commissioned by St Martin-in-the-Fields, which harnessed the extraordinary acoustic capabilities and remarkable architectural backdrop of this building in an innovative, intimate and immersive way. “You could walk around in the near darkness and follow the action. Or you could sit, listen and imagine,” wrote The Observer in its five-star review in February. 

In announcing the series, Chris Denton, CEO of St Martin-in-the-Fields, said: “Crypt Close-Ups are immersive, informal and intimate concerts with exceptional young artists which make the most of St Martin’s stunning spaces. The series is inspired by our ambition to offer fresh and innovative programming for London audiences and to strengthen St Martin’s place as one of the capital’s leading cultural venues.”

To open the series on 17 October, Ligeti Quartet in collaboration with Anna Meredith perform music from their new album Nuc—an album described by The Quietus as having “fervent melodies, growing exponentially as each layer interweaves” – with George Crumb’s iconic Black Angels.

The songs of both Nick Drake and John Dowland, two of the greatest English singer-songwriters, are the focus of ‘Time Stands Still’ on 14 November.  Though the composers were born hundreds of years apart, the themes of their work are often similar, and both are renowned for their beautiful melancholy melodies. Vocalist Lotte Betts-Dean, described by The Guardian as ‘one to watch’ with an “unmissable, urgent musicality”, sings favourite numbers from each, with rising star Dimitris Soukaras on classical, electric and steel-string guitars.

Perhaps some of the most reflective and poignant music ever written, the solo Cello Suites of J.S. Bach take centre-stage in the candlelit atmosphere of the Crypt in the third concert with cellist Vlad Waltham on 8 February 2024. “Hear his gently grainy, luminous tones and his sighing trills, and fall in love” said Gramophone magazine of his playing.

American violinist Alexi Kenney, widely acclaimed for his insightful playing, imaginative programming and ‘an artist that makes it seems as if… this were the only possible way to play the music’ (New York Times) also turns to J.S. Bach in ‘Shifting Ground for violin and electronics’ on 5 March. A concept that Alexi says is “inspired by Bach’s ability to transcend technique and access the spiritual and mystical realm”, the event creates a dramatic arc by interweaving music for solo violin and violin with electronics by J.S. Bach and composers, old and new, into five acts.

The final concert of Crypt Close-Ups features French breakdancing champion Yaman Okur from dance ensemble Wanted Posse alongside the soulful solo cello of Christian-Pierra La Marca in the intimate candlelit surrounds of the St Martin’s Crypt [29 April].